Olson skippers Qa2 to overall victory in Annapolis Labor Day Regatta

Norman Olson became acquainted with sailing off Annapolis while living in the San Francisco Bay area. Olson and his crew would fly all the way across the country just to attend the sailing school at J/World Annapolis, which at the time was operated by Jahn Tihansky.

So when Olson moved to Philadelphia he knew exactly where he wanted to continue his sailboat racing career.

“Annapolis is one of the meccas for sailing in all of America. There was no question I was going to go racing on the Chesapeake Bay,” said Olson, whose wife is from Philadelphia. “I think the competition here in Annapolis is fantastic.”

Olson raced a Farr-designed Beneteau 42.7 on San Francisco Bay and did quite will in the Big Boat Series and other major regattas over the years. The veteran real estate developer downsized to a J/92 S series sloop upon coming to the East Coast and berthed it in Annapolis.

“I knew I didn’t have the connections her to get a big crew,” said Olson, who used to sail with 10 to 13 people on San Francisco Bay.

Olson has been racing on the Chesapeake Bay for almost a decade now and just posted his most impressive victory to date, leading Qa2 to first place in PHRF A2 class at the fifth annual Annapolis Labor Day Regatta.

Greg Lines steered while Ullman Sails professional Larry Leonard called tactics as Qa2 placed second in the pursuit-style distance race on Saturday then got the gun in the windward-leeward start on Sunday to beat the Tripp 33 Monkey Dust by one point.

PHRF 2 was judged by regatta organizers to be the most competitive of 10 classes competing in the Annapolis Labor Day Regatta. As a result, Qa2 earned the City of Annapolis Trophy, which is presented to winner of the class with the tightest point spread between first and fifth.

“I didn’t know anything about the City of Annapolis Trophy. So imagine my surprise when I found out that we won it,” said Olson, who had to drop off a crew member at BWI Aiport and therefore could not attend the awards ceremony.

“I’m very flattered and very proud of my crew for doing a great job. I was just elated that we were able to get a first and a second in a very competitive class. Monkey Dust is always so well-sailed as are several of the other boats.”

Leonard put together the sail package for Qa2 and went racing on the boat in order to evaluate the setup. The longtime Annapolis pro enjoyed the crew so much he decided to join when he could.

“I feel very fortunate to have a sailor the caliber of Larry Leonard as my tactician and navigator,” said Olson, who trims the main on his own boat. “Larry always does a great job of making sure we’re going the right way.”

Olson described his S series boat as a “suped up” version of the J/92 with designers creating a flat-out racing boat with bigger cockpit and taller rig. The 30-footer flies an asymmetrical spinnaker and that proved crucial during the 14-nautical mile distance race on Saturday.

“We had a lot of tight reaching with the kite, which probably did benefit us a bit,” Olson said. “I think our downwind speed was slightly better than Monkey Dust in those conditions and we were able to stay on their tail.”

Monkey Dust, owned by Craig and Dotty Saunders, won the windward-leeward race boat-for-boat, but owes times to Qa2 when handicaps are factored in. Third place finisher Monkey Business, a Far East 28 owned by Jonathan Pollak, also rates higher than Qa2.

Sunday’s action was postponed for two hours until a 6-8 knot southeasterly sea breeze filled in and allowed for one race to be completed.

Spencer Reggio and Christine Compton shared cockpit duties on Qa2 while Kent Bartlett did the foredeck.

“I think we had our rig dialed in almost perfectly for the conditions,” Olson said of the Sunday race. “It wasn’t clear until the second upwind leg that we were holding pace with the two Monkey boats and the downwind leg would be our chance to reel them in. That second downwind leg really sealed things. I would say we caught some beneficial puffs.”

Only the PHRF entries and Cal 25 class competed in the pursuit race. Six other one-design classes did windward-leeward racing both days, completing three starts on Saturday and one on Sunday.

Mirage secured the victory in J/105 class, largest of the regatta with 16 boats. Fredrik Salvesen helmed while co-owner Cedric Lewis trimmed the jib and served as strategist as Mirage posted a solid score line of 1-3-2-2 to beat skipper John White and USA 113 by a point.

“We were really happy with how well we had the boat moving because we had struggled in those types of conditions,” Lewis said.

Lewis noted the northeasterly breeze on Saturday is a rarity off Annapolis and said 20 degree shifts made things even tougher.

“We thought it really paid to play the shifts upwind,” he said. “We had good starts and got to sail in clear air. We had good boat speed, which is always a plus because it allows you to make your own calls as opposed to reacting to other boats.”

John Meiser trimmed the main and called tactics while Vernon Sheen worked the pit and Greg Larcher handled the bow aboard Mirage. The mother-daughter duo of Missy and Lilla Salvesen shared all-around duties.

Mirage, long a family-based team, had stopped participating in Annapolis Race Week because it ran all weekend. Lewis and Salvesen are among many sailors who find the two-day format of the Annapolis Labor Day Regatta much more conducive as Monday can be spent enjoying the holiday.

Allan Terhune warmed up for this week’s J/22 World Championship by topping a talented 13-boat fleet in the Labor Day Regatta. Mike Coe served as tactician and trimmer while Cate Muller worked the bow aboard Thunder Chicken, which closed the regatta with three straight bullets.

“It was a great regatta in the J/22 class because three boats were tied after four races. So it was winner-take-all going into the last race,” Terhune said.

Runner-up Jeff Todd and third place finisher J.R. Maxwell both had the lead at one point during the last race befere Terhune pulled ahead.

“We made a big move on the first run. We gybed at the first windward mark – away from fleet – and gained a lot,” Terhune said. “Early in the second beat we were able to pass both boats.”

Terhune urged the sailing community to come and support the Annapolis Labor Day Regatta, which has solidified its place on the season calendar. Annapolis Yacht Club and Eastport Yacht Club teamed up to provide on-water support.

“I hope more of the locals need to come out and support the event. It’s great racing, the regatta management is outstanding and the parties are a blast,” Terhune said. “I hope more people embrace this event because it’s fun.”

In addition to the City of Annapolis Trophy, three other perpetual awards are handed out during the Annapolis Labor Day Regatta.

The SpinSheet Magazine Junior Varsity Trophy, recognizing a boat that has junior sailors under the age of 13, was presented to Craig and Dotty Saunders, who had their sons Clive and David crewing aboard Monkey Dust. This was the third time the Saunders family has received the award and they will graduate into the Varsity category next year.

The SpinSheet Varsity Trophy, honoring the boat that has junior sailors aged 13 to 18, went to skipper Chuck Kohlermann and Medicine Man. Kohlerman had his sons Ian and Aiden racing on the J/35.

The Wilcox Trophy, which is presented to the top performing woman skipper in the regatta, was captured by Koralina McKenna, who finished eighth in J/22 class.

Annapolis Labor Day Regatta

Cal 25 (12 boats)

1, Patriot, John McAllister, 1-2-3=6; 2, Thor, Keith Ziegler, 2-3-2=7; 3, One Eyed Jack, 5-5-1=11

J/22 (13 boats)

1, Thunder Chicken, Allan Terhune, 3-3-1-1-1=9; 2, Scooby, J.R. Maxwell, 2-1-3-2-2=10; 3, Hot Toddy, Jeff Todd, 1-2-2-3-4=12

J/30 (7 boats)

1, Totaled Mayhem, Doug & Amy Stryker, 1-2-1-2-3=9; 2, Bebop, Bob Rutsch, 5-4-3-1-1=14; 3, Infectious Smile, Tristan & Sheila Keen, 4-1-4-4-5=18

J/80 (6 boats)

1, More Cowbell, Pen Alexander, 1-5-1-1-1=9; 2, Outlaws, Derick Lynch, 3-1-4-2-2=12; 3, Vayu, David Andril, 2-3-3-4-5=17

J/105 (16 boats)

1, Mirage, Fredrik Salvesen/Cedric Lewis, 1-3-2-2=8; 2, USA 113, John White, 3-2-3-1=9; 3, Tenacious, Carl & Scott Gitchell, 2-9-4-3=18

J/35 (5 boats)

1, Aunt Jean, James Sagerholm, 4-3-1-1=9; 2, Medicine Man, Charles Kohlmermann, 2-1-4-2=9; 3, Abientot, Roger Lant, 1-4-2-4=11

PHRF A0/A1 (8 boats)

1, Slush Fund, Jim Connelly, 2-1=3; 2, Darkhorse, David McCreight, 1-3=4; 3, Endorphin, 5-2=7

PHRF A2 (10 boats)

1, Qa2, Norman Olson, 2-1=3; 2, Monkey Dust, Craig Saunders, 1-3=4; 3, Monkey Business, Jonathan Pollak, 5-2=7

PHRF B/C (2 boats)

1, Incorrigible, Robert Seidel, 1-1-1=3; 2, Jahazi, David Dodson, 2-4/ret-2=8

Viper 640 (5 boats)

1, Deep State, Walt Pletcher, 6/ret-1-1=8; 2, Tangerine, James Pokorski, 1-5-3=9; 3, Bliksem, Heather Patterson, 2-2-5=9

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